Alabama holds off No. 14 Tennessee in Tuscaloosa
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 19/19 Alabama men’s basketball team used a 16-5 run over the final 6:02 to earn a hard-fought 73-68 victory over No. 14/15 Tennessee Wednesday night in Coleman Coliseum. It marked the Crimson Tide’s (10-3, 1-0 SEC) third win over a top-15 team this season.
Graduate transfer Noah Gurley had his best game of the season, recording his first double-double in an Alabama uniform with 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Guard Jahvon Quinerly added 18 points while Jaden Shackelford finished with 12 points in the victory. Senior Keon Ellis also played solid with nine points, nine rebounds and a team-leading five assists.
The win marked the Crimson Tide’s 17th-consecutive home victory and the third-straight over Tennessee in the series – the first time UA has defeated UT in three-consecutive games in the series since doing so from 2011-13.
Tennessee (9-3, 0-1), who was coming off an upset win over previously unbeaten and top-10 ranked Arizona last week, was playing without starters John Fulkerson and Kennedy Chandler, who were kept out of the lineup due to Covid protocols.
HEAD COACH NATE OATS POSTGAME COMMENTS
“That was a tough game. You’ve got to give Tennessee a lot of credit, playing without two starters, and they gave us everything we could handle. We told our guys going into the game that we have been in these situations before where our team is down a guy or two and everybody picks it up. That’s what happened today. It was one of those games that we struggled to make shots but they had a lot to do with that. We just missed open shots. I thought that in the past maybe some of our guys let their defensive intensity go down when the offense is struggling but that didn’t happen tonight. I thought Noah Gurley had the best game he has played since he has been here. He’s been in the gym working and hard work does not go unrewarded. It is a big win for us. Tennessee is going to challenge for the SEC title and it was a big win to start off SEC play.”
It was not only the Crimson Tide’s third victory over a ranked team this season, it marked the third win over a team ranked in the NCAA NET top 10
The last time Alabama defeated Tennessee in three-consecutive games in the series came in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (the Tide won both games versus the Volunteers last year)
The contest featured eight ties and seven lead changes, with Alabama taking its biggest lead of the game with the final score
Alabama outscored Tennessee in the paint, 38-22
The Tide scored 73 points on the Vols, which entered the game ranked No. 2 in defensive efficiency
Entering the game, Tennessee had held five of its previous six opponents to less than 57 points and was averaging giving up just 59.3 points per game
After Tennessee scored the game’s first four points, the Crimson Tide went on an early 12-3 run behind five points from Quinerly to take a 12-7 lead at the first media timeout
The game remained close until the Volunteers used a 10-3 run to take their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 33-23, with 3:23 remaining until halftime
The Crimson Tide responded by scoring the final 10 points of the half to even the score at 33-33 as the teams went into the locker room
Gurley finished the first half with a season-high 10 points, going 4-5 from the field, while Shackelford added seven
Both teams swapped buckets to begin the second half, with the Volunteers holding a 43-38 lead at the first media timeout of the second half
The Tide went on a 7-2 spurt to even the game at 45-all with 13:24 left
The teams traded buckets over the next few minutes with the Vols clinging to a 56-55 lead with 7:50 left in the game
Tennessee went on a 7-2 run with four points coming from the charity stripe to take a 63-57 lead with 6:02 remaining in regulation
An Ellis three-pointer followed by a Gurley layup jumpstarted the Tide’s game-ending 16-5 run to result in the final score
Alabama begins a two-game road swing when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the Florida Gators on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2